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Page 42


She 's a vile creature,” said the severe woman, looking
very red in the face. The conversation had been
upon the propriety of recognizing one who had fallen
from virtue, if fame were to be believed, and the severe
woman, whose purity could not be questioned, closed
her side of the argument with the remark commencing
this paragraph. Dr. Spooner arose from the table and
stepped behind his chair, as children do in schools when
called upon to recite. “The term vile, madam,” said
he, looking at the severe woman, “is a very strong one
coming from human lips, and those who utter it should
be very sure that they stand on sure ground themselves.
Because great imperfection may be imputed to any one,
it does not follow that the whole body is corrupt.
There may be beneath all this corruption a stratum of
pure soil, in which good seeds may grow, — in which,
indeed, they may be now germinating, — that may not
shoot their leaf up through the crust of sin and degradation
that keeps them down, but may throw out
the tendrils of an undying principle, that, deeper than
the flesh, will one day find an outgrowth in other airs,
and shame those who, wrapt in their own sensuous
perfectibility, have not allowed a spiritual seed to
grow. Vile, indeed! The expression comes with a
poor grace from any unless they have the scale and
balance by a special patent from heaven with which
to weigh human wrong, and it should be carefully
used. I once knew a case where a good woman and a
bad woman made custards for a sick person, and both
met in the sick room — the one with a proud spirit that
she was not like the wicked one, the other humble and
retiring, as if ashamed of herself. But the good woman's
custards were made of skimmed milk and sweetened


Page 43
with brown sugar, and the bad woman's were
made very deliciously; and the sick one fancied that the
souls of both those persons were seen in the custard-cups;
and in the comparative estimate he found more
intrinsic excellence in the bad woman than in the good
woman, and believed, as he still believes, that many
transgressions, that spring from human weakness,
will be forgiven, for the sparks of love that may be
still smouldering deeply within. I see you laugh at my
homely illustration; but it is a life-picture, treat it as
you may. Let us call them unfortunate, rather than
vile, and humble ourselves to regard them with charity.”

The severe woman looked very red, but said nothing
further till the doctor was gone.